Yesterday could have possibly been the end of me. Usually, my trip home takes no more than 15 minutes using the local bus route, so I was sure I was going to make it home in time for my daughter’s fifth birthday party. The present I got her was sure to make her happy.
When I left the office building the faint scent of petrichor wafted through the air, mingling with the usual smells of the big city. As I stood there I thought, it isn’t going to rain. The weather forecast doesn’t call for rain until this weekend, so I paid it no mind. As soon as I stepped onto the bus my problems started. I went to scan my bus pass and instead of the usual, ding of acceptance, I was met with the harsh, repeating bleat of denial. I tried once again, and then a third time. Each to no avail.
“If your pass don’t work, you can’t ride. Sorry son, better get that looked into,” said the old bus driver.
Exasperated, I walked off the bus, present in hand, and started my trek home. Walking home took no more than forty-five minutes so I knew I’d arrive on time. before I got too far, I decided to give my wife a call to let her know I was going to be late. The phone range once before I heard it pick up.
“Hi daddy!” said my daughter.
“Hi sweety, how’s the birthday girl doing! I hope you’re ready for your present,” I replied.
“Good! And yeah! Are you coming home soon?”
“Yes sweety, daddy’s just going to be a little later than usual, okay? Would you mind handing the phone over to mommy?”
I hear my daughter handing the phone off to my wife in the background.
“Hey Paul, what’s up? Did you get held up at work again? You remember it’s your daughters fifth birthday today, right?” My wife said.
“Yes Claire, I remembered. I got her present right here with me. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be running a bit later than usual, my bus pass got denied for some reason so I’m walking home. I should be there in about thirty minutes.”
“Okay, good, I’m glad you remembered. Do you have an umbrella? It looks like it’s going to rain.”
“No, I left it at home, I’ll be fine, it’s not supposed to rain until the weekend—”
A voice suddenly whispers in my ear accompanied by a sharp prodding in my back.
“Hang up the phone and turn around slowly.” The voice said
“Hey Hun, I have to go, my phones about to die. Love you, bye.”
“Hold on wai—” says my wife before being cut off.
I turned around slowly with my hands over my head, present in one hand and phone in the other. Standing before me was a middle aged, scraggly man in a hood, holding a kitchen knife to my gut.
“Hand over your phone, wallet, and whatever’s in the box. Make it quick unless you don’t want to make it home buddy,” he said.
There was no way I was going to just give into the demands of some two-bit crook. My phone and wallet I could care less about but the present I got my daughter was different. I spent months trying to find somewhere that sold this super rare doll that she wanted, and I wasn’t going to give that up without a fight. With my phone in hand, I swung. Instantaneously I felt something cold enter my chest followed by a warm trickling sensation underneath my shirt. I looked down in a daze. Had I just been stabbed? Oh my god, I just got stabbed! I tried to take a step but instantly fell to my knees. My head was pounding, the world started slurring and warping all around me. Then I blacked out.
The next thing I know I’m waking up to a soft, repetitive beep. I struggle to open my eyes at first but as soon as I do, I’m greeted by the sight of doctors, nurses, my wife and my daughter. My daughter is the first to realize I’ve regained consciousness.
“Daddy!” she yells as she runs across the room, jumping on top of me and giving me the biggest hug ever. “I thought you were gonna die!” she says as she starts crying and blubbering into my hospital gown.
“Now Ashley, Behave yourself! Your father is hurt don’t go jumping on him like that! Just because it’s your birthday doesn’t mean you can’t act sensible child!” My wife says to her. Then she turned to me and said, “What were you thinking Paul? You could’ve gotten killed! What got into you!?”
“I was finally able to find that doll Ashley has been wanting for the longest time, and I knew she would be sad if she didn’t get it. I couldn’t just let that crook have it.” I replied through labored slightly labored gasps as Ashley dug her head deeper into the part of my chest that hadn’t been stabbed.
“I thought I could—” but before I could finish speaking, Ashley lifts her head and interjects through tear-soaked eyes,
“Daddy, I don’t care about some stupid doll, I just want you to come home for my birthday. This year, and the next year, and the next year…”
“Okay sweety I think I got it,” I chuckled. “To think that I got myself hurt over a present is pretty silly of me, isn’t it?”
Right then the doctor cuts in.
“Excuse me, sir? You’re cleared you to go home. The stab wound wasn’t life threatening and he didn’t hit any vital organs, so you’re all set to go,” said the doctor.
“Isn’t that just perfect! I’m pretty sure the ice cream cake hasn’t melted yet, let’s say we head home and celebrate!” Claire said.
“That sounds nice,” I replied.
Kyle Carpenter has been writing fiction for 3 years. Kyle has been entered in the NC State poetry contest twice.